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As the Stinson turns

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A lot has happened since the last time we discussed David Jason Stinson, the Louisville high school football coach facing criminal prosecution and a civil lawsuit after one of his players, Max Gilpin, collapsed in practice and died.

To summarize what’s happened in the last month, ever since Stinson refused to answer questions at his deposition for the civil lawsuit:

Feb. 16: Pleasure Ridge Park High School principal David Johnson, Stinson’s boss and a former football coach at the school, didn’t do himself or his football coach any favors by saying during his deposition that he never investigated what happened during that fateful Aug. 20, 2008, practice — bad enough, except he emailed one parent that he had conducted a “thorough investigation.” He also said he deleted any parent emails because they appeared to be “hate mail” — even though, as the aforementioned sentence shows, he responded to messages from parents describing what they saw and heard at that football practice. Finally, Johnson said athletic director Craig Webb didn’t tell him about Gilpin’s collapse until 18 hours after it happened. Webb told the school district athletic director, as is protocol. Gilpin died of septic shock on Aug. 23, three days after his collapse. (Full deposition, thanks to the Louisville Courier-Journal, is here.)

Feb. 19: Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Sheldon Berman says his office will look at how Johnson handled the Gilpin incident. “[W]e’re studying the deposition and working with him on some of the issues,” he said. One issue: trying to recover the emails Johnson deleted. However, Berman also told the Courier-Journal that the district began investigating the Gilpin case two days after it happened, and that information it gathered contradicts other accounts of Stinson and his assistants denying players water and running them excessively on a day the heat index hit 94.

Feb. 22: A Louisville judge approves adding Johnson, Webb and assistant football coach Josh Lightle as defendents in the civil suit, joining Stinson and five other assistants. The judge also demands the school district hand over its internal investigation.

Feb. 24: The Kentucky House Education Committee clears legislation that would require ice pools at all high school practices and games when the heat index is 94 degrees or above; requires coaches to be trained in the use of automatic external defibrillators for treating cardiac arrest (they already must know CPR); encourages school boards to purchase the devices and make them available at practices at games; and requires the Kentucky High School Athletic Association to revise its heat policy to consider pollution levels on hot days. The Kentucky School Boards Association supports the bill, filed because of Gilpin’s death.

March 2: The full House passes the bill, but without the ice-pool requirement. The bill’s sponsor withdrew on advice of the Kentucky Medical Association, which said it would help the state board of education develop protocol for treating overheating. Emergency physicians worried that ice pools would not be an effective treatment in all cases.

March 2: The prosecution turns over its evidence to Stinson’s defense (he has pleaded not guilty to reckless homicide). The most damning evidence (drawn from witness interviews) is that despite the hot day, Stinson denied his players water as he added “gassers” (sprints) at the end of practice because he though his players weren’t hustling enough. Players said Stinson called anyone who couldn’t finish the gassers a “coward.” After Gilpin collapsed, Stinson told players to stay away from him “because you’re not his mother or his nurse.”  Stinson told players he was going to run them until somebody quits, and didn’t let anyone take a water break until the end — and then only briefly.

(An editorial comment here. I’m coaching junior kids in basketball, and believe you me I understand the frustration when you have a group of kids who are farting around or otherwise uninspired. And that’s even though my livelihood and ability to pay my mortgage aren’t predicated on their performance. Even if what the prosecution says is true, a lot of coaches are going to look at what Stinson did and say for the grace of God goes I. Also, they’re going to wonder how to punish players who aren’t sufficiently focused, because extra running is a pretty common penalty. This is why a lot of coaches, sickened as they may be over Gilpin’s death, would see the criminal and civil cases as attacks on their authority and profession.)

March 4: Berman tells the Courier-Journal that Stinson, suspended from coaching and reassigned to noninstructional status since his Jan. 21 indictment, will not be back as head football coach. The newspaper notes that it hopes, what with Pleasure Ridge Park being a public school and all, that religion doesn’t play a part again in whom Johnson hires as football coach. It cites this Aug. 25 response, revealed in his civil suit deposition, that Johnson sent to a parent email (apparently it wasn’t hate mail) about Stinson’s qualifications:  “Our head football coach was hired based not only on his knowledge of football, but also because of his strong Christian beliefs and integrity toward his job and the treatment of all who know him.”

March 7: Former Kentucky medical examiner George Nichols, hired by Stinson’s defense for the civil suit, says it wasn’t heat stroke that killed Gilpin. It was Adderall, a drug prescribed for ADHD that includes an amphetamine, which causes overheating. (Nichols has made a career out of being a medical expert for the defense since leaving public service.) The Courier-Journal shows another doctor the hospital records on Gilpin, and he agrees with Nichols. Having a jury (or juries) accept this finding would be huge for Stinson. The case against him is predicated on his denying water on an excessively hot day. If the death is blamed on Adderall, then Stinson is likely off the hook. Maybe a giant douchenozzle, but off the hook.

March 9: Despite supportive testimony from Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks, the Kentucky Senate Education committee waters down the Gilpin-related bill. Instead, it recommends a study on the issue, given the conflicting medical information on how to treat heat-related injuries, and superintendents’ concern about the cost of buying all those defibrillators and providing all that safety training.

March 13: An athletics safety bill  makes it  through the Kentucky legislature and goes to the governor. It requires coaches to get more extensive emergency medical training. That is put back into the bill after legislators have second thoughts about what Brooks said. It’s been a long time since anything a University of Kentucky football coach said was taken seriously.

And now you may consider yourself up-to-date.

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Terry Drayton’s latest legal trouble

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The beleaguered owner of Count Me In, which was forced into bankruptcy after running up a $5 million in IOUs to youth sports organizations that used it for online registration services, is now extra beleaguered. The Seattle tech news site TechFlash reports that a company called The Active Network has sued Count Me in for patient infringement. (The lawsuit itself is here.)

(By the way, I should apologize for getting to this a few days’ late. Given that Terry Drayton and Count Me In are very popular search terms for this site, you’d figure I’d be all over this at least in the name of giving the [very angry] people what they want.)

draytonIf cruel irony is what you readers want, here it is.

San Diego-based Active claims an affiliate of Count Me In has infringed on its online registration-related patent, titled “METHOD AND SYSTEM OF ELECTRONICALLY RECEIVING AND PROCESSING MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION
OF AN ORGANIZATION.” (Apropos of nothing, it was granted Sept. 11, 2001.) Active is saying that Arena Group, Count Me In’s parent, used this patent as part of its own online registration program — and used the Active registered trademark to boot.

Active says Seattle-based Count Me In had prior knowledge of its patent before using it, through the lawsuit doesn’t spell out how anyone at Count Me In knew about it. Drayton and Count Me In have not yet responded to the lawsuit.

The Active Network filed this case in federal court in Seattle. A similar lawsuit Active brought in federal court in southern California, was dismissed in February, only a few weeks after filing. That doesn’t speak well for Active’s chances of winning. Even if it won, what would it get out of a bankrupt company that can’t pay the bills it already has?

But that might be beside the point. Active is a Count Me In competitor and has its own competitive reasons for wanting to crush a company already forced in bankruptcy by the some of youth sports organization to which it owed money. Actually, Active has been, um, active on various web sites doing a little grave dancing on Count Me In and trying to sell its own product, which is used by Little League Baseball. (Look at the comment sections here and the last paragraph of this story. Certainly, even a mention on this little ol’ blog will make Active executives smile.

News flash: If you live by a park, you might see people using it

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Marc Fisher of the Washington Post documents some of the fighting that has gone on in DC, and elsewhere, over lights in public parks and other facilities turned on for the purposes of youth sports leagues.

Fisher, rightly, says having lights on for a few hours at night is not going to kill anybody, even though opponents make it sound like the fields are lit up with spent nuclear rods that are draining uranium through their windows. He links to a particularly high-larious site put out (but not updated in a while) by presumably some crabby apple in Glendora, Calif. The best part is the sound files of what you might hear at a park during a game — cheering, I tell you, cheering!

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Get off my publicly financed lawn!

Fisher rightly takes down the opponents as overreacting, kid-hating, snooty douchebags. Hey, if you don’t like the sounds of kids playing, don’t live by the park! In fact, I would put these folks in the same category as:

— People who live by the airport and complain about the noise.
— People who live in a bustling downtown area, and complain about the traffic and parking
— People who live in a farming area and complain about the smell
— People who move out to a suburb’s Sphincterous Acres subdivision and complain when more houses and shops are built (Note: this isn’t so much of a problem lately.)

Certainly, a youth sports league using a park should be a good neighbor, doing things like cleaning up after itself, ensuring parking is adequate and not playing all through the night, just like a farmer would be a good neighbor to do something to mitigate the smell of hundreds of thousands of pooping chickens. But, sheesh, if you want to complain about goings-on in a park, complain about raving bands of hooligans, sexual liaisons on the sly and leftover needles. Not kids playing ball.

Written by rkcookjr

March 3, 2009 at 1:05 pm

The evolution of Washington’s sports discrimination bill

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Today a Washington State Senate committee passed a bill that seeks to address gender inequities in youth athletics. The bill it passed was not the original version filed two weeks ago. Depending on your point of view, the new version of the bill either addresses legitimate problems regarding equal access and funding of boys’ and girls’ sports, or strips away any enforcement mechanism in such a way that makes the legislation an exercise in do-nothing do-goodism.

The bill seeks to be the second (behind similar legislation passed in California in 2004) to require publicly funded organizations, whether they be  park districts, cities, townships or counties, that administer youth sports or youth sports facilities to prepare a formal statement saying they will not discriminate “against any person on the basis of sex in the operation, conduct, or administration of community athletics programs for youth or adults.”

Privately run leagues aren’t off the hook. If they lease or use any public facility, they need to prepare an anti-discrimination statement as well.

Why aren’t schools require to create such policies? Because schools are covered under Title IX. (However, third-parties using school facilities still must have an anti-discrimination policy).

Here is Washington state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, testifying for the bill. She is one of the sponsors, and she says that in some cases boys programs are still getting preferred funding or access:

You might note her referencing a substitute bill worked out with various “stakeholders.” Presumably, though no one has said so yet, those stakeholders include parks and recreation officials. They found unworkable the original bill’s insistence on task forces (paid for with private money of an unknown source) to study the extent of gender discrimination and the establishment of public grievance procedures (paid for by the potentially offending party) if any parent complained of discrimination. Also, by 2018, it would not have been enough to defend oneself by showing you had a history of attempting to equalize funding and participation rates consistent with the male-female ratio in your purview. If you didn’t, you could be screwed.

Thus, all those parts were stripped out of the bill, lest it not pass because of the fear that cash-strapped municipalities and park districts would end up shoving the knife even further into youth sports than it would otherwise.

So what’s left is a requirement about adding anti-discrimination language, which doesn’t seem like much. But it would be more than 48 other states have done. While I haven’t run into obvious cases of discrimination involving my daughters yet (one of whom is only three, so it’s not like she’s had a chance), no doubt there are plenty of places where boys get the meat and girls get the scraps. An anti-discrimination policy is the least any youth sports organization or facilities manager can do.

I would come down on the side saying it’s a good thing the onerous legalese and paperwork requirements were cut out of the bill, but then again I’m a man, so what do I know? Having codified anti-discrimination language does at least give aggrieved girls and their parents an greater opening to fight if needed — and give leagues and facilities’ lawyers one more very good way to advise their clients how not to get sued. I suspect even with this watered-down bill, some girls in Washington are going to be helped.

As for the boys? I doubt they’ll be tossed onto to the street — unless there is some parks manager deciding to act like a jerk just to make the bill, and the girls, look bad.

Written by rkcookjr

February 24, 2009 at 1:30 pm

The deposition of David Jason Stinson

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The Louisville Courier-Journal has gotten the video of the deposition of David Jason Stinson, who has three names because I can’t figure out which one he goes by. Stinson has pleaded not guilty to reckless homicide in the death of Max Gilpin, a 15-year-old who collapsed in the heat during one of Stinson’s Pleasure Ridge Park High football practices last August. He’s also among those Gilpin’s parents are suing in a separate civil case, which is the subject of the video deposition.

If you haven’t clicked on the link yet, I’ll save you the (lack of) drama: Stinson’s lawyer says he can’t answer any questions because of the criminal case. Most depositions last longer than a Marmoset song.

Much better than the David Jason Stinson Experience.

Meanwhile, a Kentucky legislator has introduced a bill that would require ice pools on hand during high school practices and games when the heat index of over 94 degrees, according to the C-J. The legislator acknowledges its chances of passing are slim, not so much because the Kentucky High School Athletic Association already has standards how to handle the heat, but because there is only three weeks left in the legislative session.

Girlz allowed

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In Indiana, the state high school athletic association is choosing not to fight a lawsuit brought on a behalf of a Bloomington high school girl who would rather play baseball with the boys than softball with her fellow females. From The Associated Press (via The Indianapolis Star):

Under [Indiana State High School Athletic Association] rules, girls may participate on boys’ teams in baseball, basketball, football, soccer and wrestling when a comparable girls program does not exist at the school. But following the lawsuit filed against the IHSAA in November on behalf of a Bloomington South freshman, the association’s board recently voted 18-9 to let girls try out for baseball even if their school has a softball team.

“Our odds are against us winning it in court,” [IHSAA Commissioner Blake] Ress told The Bloomington Herald Times. “It’s not impossible, but as we researched it, more states are doing this and when there have been court issues, more often they said they could (play) than they couldn’t.”

Ress said he believed that baseball and softball were comparable sports because each involves a bat and a ball, similar positions and baselines on the diamond, and six outs in an inning. But the fields have different dimensions and use different-sized balls.

Tae Sture of Fishers, one of the attorneys representing the girl, said they would wait for the rule to be formally adopted before deciding whether to drop the lawsuit.

Ress said the rule was now in effect but still had to be formally reaffirmed by the board at the IHSAA’s meeting in May.

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Now for sale in the Bloomington High School South bookstore, now that it no longer by the baseball field.

I’ve coached co-ed basketball for two years, and somehow boys and girls playing together does not seem like a big deal. The only problem I’ve run into is girl-shy fifth- and sixth-grade boys and boy-shy fifth- and sixth-grade girls a little queasy about bodying up an opponent of the opposite sex on defense.

There is no information about the particular girl behind the lawsuit, but if she thinks she can make the baseball team, then go for it. What about boys who want to try out for girls teams, you say? Presumably the door is open for a boy to try out for a girls’ volleyball team (no boys volleyball in Indiana). But the serious athletes are already competing at the club level, and the not-so-serious ones are probably more likely to stick to intramural sports rather than play on an opposite-sex team. Maybe there’s something sinister explaining why there aren’t a flood of athletes following in this girl’s footsteps (and given the reader responses to the Star’s posting of the story, you can figure out what it is), but I think a lot of athletes would just rather play with and against their own gender, for social as well as athletic reasons.

Written by rkcookjr

February 4, 2009 at 12:30 pm